Over-the-counter hearing aids (OTCs) are a new type of device that is appearing on the market.

Offering a cheaper “alternative” to hearing aids, they are devices that consumers can purchase upfront without any medical background information.

This means that they are not custom-made for certain individuals and are usually dispensed via the internet or in your local store.

Recently, the FDA passed a law to make OTC hearing aids a regulated item, ensuring consumers are aware of certain precautions before purchasing them.

But what are the implications of an OTC device?

Who Are They For?

The nature of over-the-counter hearing aids means that they can be purchased by anyone, as they don’t require any paperwork or a medical history check.

This makes them a very convenient and cheaper option for those who don’t have the time to visit an audiology clinic. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for a pair of hearing aids, you can pay as little as $100 for OTCs.

Generally, they are suited for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, but due to the convenience of accessing them, anyone may find themselves with a pair of OTCs.

Except, this is a huge danger.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are purely amplification devices, so they work by increasing the volume. This means that if you have a serious hearing loss, you will not find satisfaction from them and it could even make your issues worse.

The FDA recommends that their use is solely for amplifying sounds in certain environments, and they must not be used to treat hearing loss. For example, security guards may find them useful when they are in a noisy environment.

OTCs Are Expected to Present Some Challenges

There are many complications around OTC devices, but here are some of the most important factors you should consider before investing in an OTC:

  • They are not properly fit your ear, so expect to experience some discomfort/ falling out from time to time.
  • It may make your tinnitus worse.
  • You may find it more difficult to understand speech.

With all that in mind, it’s important to consider whether a small-term investment is worth the damage it may potentially cause in the long run.

What Are the Benefits of OTC Hearing Aids?

While OTCs are not a medical solution to those with hearing troubles, there are certain circumstances where they work well.

In the right situation and right environment, they can provide accessibility to hearing technology when people aren’t able to visit an audiologist.

It may be that you live in an area where there are not those services available, or money is a setback, so OTCs work to benefit you in your transitionary period in between devices.

It’s not going to fit perfectly and it’s not going to work well, but it will get you through until we can get you into a provider and get you properly assessed.

A Hearing Assessment Ensures Your Hearing is Prioritized

You know that treating hearing loss is just one part of the puzzle and there are many other factors that contribute to the overall success of your journey.

When you visit the House of Hearing, the first thing we will do before we recommend any type of technology is schedule you in for a hearing assessment.

This allows us to examine your hearing in detail and outline a treatment plan for your hearing concerns.

If you decide to choose an OTC device, you must be aware that when you pay cheap prices, you should expect a cheap product.

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about anything in this article, or simply want advice on the options available, then you can get in touch with one of our experts at 801-657-4175.

 

 

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Ben Chargo Au.D., CCC-A

Ben is a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) with the House of Hearing. He received his doctorate from the University of Utah in May of 2018. He has been an employee of ENT House of Hearing since 2014 when he started as an intern while working on his doctorate. Ben was originally introduced to this field while working with his father, as he is also an audiologist and the owner of a private practice in Minnesota. From the first time he worked with his dad, Ben knew that this was the profession for him, as he was able to combine his love for helping others with his skills as a problem solver and as a communicator. Ben strongly believes that the work he does here is essential to improving the quality of life for each and every one of his patients, and his work is never done for the day until he has done everything he can to improve the hearing and lives of those patients. Since moving from Minnesota to Salt Lake City in 2013, he has fully embraced the Utah lifestyle. When he is not at work, you can typically find him skiing or snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, golfing, or on a motorcycle ride with his friends.